Federal lawmakers have dismissed calls by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for a referendum as part of the on-going constitution review process, saying that such a process is not tenable.
The planned review of the 1999 constitution by the 7th National Assembly has commenced with the Senate hosting a public hearing and the House of Representatives has planned its own public hearings in all the 360 federal constituencies in the country.
The process has been commended by a number of professional bodies and civil society organisations but the leadership of the NBA has however expressed some reservations about how the process is being conducted.
President of the association, Okey Wali, had recently stated that there is no clear agenda or known methodology in the ongoing amendment process. According to the lawyer, the one day public hearing session to be held simultaneously in the 360 federal constituencies on November 10, as proposed by the House of Representatives, cannot produce anything meaningful to the amendment of the 1999 constitution.
The Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, on Thursday described the NBA’s stance as ‘surprising’ adding that the NBA cannot “disown” the on-going process which it has participated actively in.
Speaking further on the issue, Mr Ndoma-Egba, explained that the constitution has prescribed the mechanism for amendment and that the National Assembly will be sticking to that.
This is a position shared by the House of Representatives, who through its spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, said the demand for a referendum as part of the constitution process is one option the National Assembly is not interested in.
Mr Mohammed added the House will not subscribe to what he called extra-constitutional means of reviewing the constitution.
The lawmakers say they are determined to ensure that the proposed amendment enjoys national consensus and acceptance. And that it truly becomes a constitution that belongs to the people of Nigeria.